As a Physical Therapist, I often have friends and patients ask me: Is running bad for my knees, or will running lead to developing arthritis in my knees or hips? Like any other sport, running requires some prerequisite strength and mobility for proper performance. However, it appears that in general running does not lead to arthritis, but actually may help prevent arthritis in the knees and hips. If you have been previously told you have knee osteoarthritis, there are options. Here is a link to an article written by Patrick Bridge, Clinic Director of Newberg Physical Therapy, regarding non-surgical treatment options.

A recent study published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical therapy used the data from seventeen prior studies on the correlation between running and hip and knee osteoarthritis. The study combined and analyzed the data from each individual involved in these seventeen studies.1 By combining the data from these studies, the authors were able to look at the correlation between running and knee and hip osteoarthritis among 114,829 people. The authors found that 10.2 percent of non-runners and more sedentary individuals involved in the studies had knee and hip osteoarthritis, while among recreational runners the rate of knee and hip osteoarthritis was only 3.5 percent. Competitive runners, defined as professional runners or those competing internationally, had a slightly higher rate of knee and hip osteoarthritis than sedentary individuals, at 13.3 percent.

The key point of this recent research study, is that recreational running will likely not be detrimental to your knee and hip joint tissues, and may actually improve your joint health. Although running has numerous health benefits, a large percentage of runners experience pain or an injury with running at some point in their training. If your ability to run is currently limited by pain or discomfort, we would love to help you get back to pain-free running and decrease the likelihood of future injury.

  1. Alentorn-Geli EF, Samuelsson KF, Musahl V FAU – Green, Cynthia,L., FAU GC, Bhandari MF, Karlsson J. The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy JID – 7908150. 0802.